tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN March 15, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EDT
that's it for 360. "piers morgan tonight" starts now. the world watches a nation in shock. >> i still cannot believe that happened. >> thousands dead, thousands more missing. and the worst natural disaster ever to hit japan. whole neighborhoods washed away. rescuers from around the world desperately searching for survivors. >> i left my house with nothing. all i managed to do is evacuate my elderly parents. my house, everything is gone. >> now the growing nuclear
emergency, dangerous radiation leaking from damaged reactors. hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes. can japan avert a meltdown. and if a disaster strikes this country, will you be safe. also, aid for japan. where your money's going. and my exclusive live interview with yoko ono. this is a special edition of "piers morgan tonight." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> good evening. the situation in japan tonight is dire. we start with breaking news. a little while ago, there was another explosion of a nuclear power plant in the northern part of the country. radiation levels are four time the previous level. the death toll in the wake of the tsunami is officially risen to 2,414. it will surely go much higher. meanwhile, we've just received
this extraordinary video. it was shot the moment the tsunami struck. and the japanese to the sendai. we've also received a new video of a shopping mall that erupted in flames in northern japan. i want to start by going to sendai where anderson cooper is live on the ground. anderson, tell me what the latest is on this explosion that the power plant which is the third now we've had in the last three days. >> reporter: piers, as you know, the death toll continues to rise. i'm in the port region in sendai, a city of about 1 million people. i don't know if can you tell behind me, there are cars strewn all around here. there were actually a number of fatalities in this area by the port when the tsunami came in. a number of people actually trapped in their vehicles. their bodies were taken out. the cars still remain all over the place, tossed around. it's become a cliche to say, but like children's toys. you know, there's a lot of areas that relief crews and search and
rescue crews haven't been able to get to or are just starting to get to. i was in an area a couple hours ago that used to be a rice field. we were walking along. there is no way you could tell it was farmland. it was this complete debris field. and what was amazing is that the debris was probably at least ten feet thick. so there was really no way to tell if there were people whose bodies were buried inside all that debris. finally, some japanese soldiers came and they didn't have dogs or heavy earth moving equipment. they just had sticks. they were kind of basically going around by smell trying to locate people. so it's going to be a number of days before they really get a sense of what the actual death toll is, how many people are actually missing at this point. you know, we're still very much early days in this. obviously the whole nuclear issue, you know, gives a whole other level of fear. what's interesting when you go around to like water distribution centers or places where people are lined up for food, there's not pandemonium.
there's not -- you don't hear people arguing and yelling at each other or fighting with each other, complaining about their place in line. people are very calm. people are very orderly. and i was at one water distribution center where they ran out of water. and people have been waiting for hours. but no one was complaining when the government official, you know, apologized publicly and said they were going to try to get more water. but right now they were out. and people, you know, just continue to stand in line. there is a sense that people are in this together and just trying to cope the best way they can, piers. >> anderson, thank you very much. i know you're having trouble hearing me, so we'll come back to you and sanjay gupta very shortly. i want to go to matthew, "new york times'" nuclear expert. matthew, tell me about the latest incident, this new
explosion. how significant is it? and how significant is it on a wider level that we've seen three of these? >> piers, it's a little difficult to tell. we've seen three of them. when you have a reactor that isn't cooled properly, the steam interacts with the metal surrounding the fuel rod. that gives off hydrogen. the hydrogen will explode pretty easily. the other two explosions were in the outer building. this explosion happened within the primary containment. and that's a worry. because if they break the primary containment open, they really have lost almost all the barriers to releases of radioactive materials. but so far the reports have been kind of sketchy. >> there were lots of wildly different reports, rumors, speculation about what is really happening in these nuclear plants. it's very hard for laymen like me to get a handle on where the truth lies and how big a risk this is. from what you are assessing with your more expert eye, how worried should we be here? >> that's a good question. we're someplace we've never been before. we have not had this kind of core damage.
three mile island was core damage but it was in a different and more sturdy kind of conta containment and it was over before we knew it was happening. this has gone on for days. it's been a continuing struggle. nobody is quite certain about how a reactor core will behave as it gets to be more and more damaged. we're now seeing fission products and the radioactive materials that are created during operations. and that means that the fuel rods have cracked open or perhaps broken open. and the steam that they're releasing because the only way they have to cool the plant is to dump in water and let the steam out again, the steam they're releasing is getting dirtier and dirtier. and these machines have been through a more powerful earthquake probably than they were designed for. they seem to have survived that. they've been through a tsunami that they weren't designed for. and it's shake 'n bake. and now they're getting occasional explosions. they've had problems opening and closing valves. it's getting harder to deal with keeping the cores covered.
and you can foresee outcomes where most of the radiation, radioactive material stays inside. but it's just not clear at this moment where it's going. >> what i can't understand in this, in terms of the planning, as to where they put these nuclear plants, is, in a country like japan, they have a lot of earthquakes so you could choose any one country and it could be deemed a risk. why would you put them anywhere near the ocean? when we know that tsunamis can get triggered by earthquakes? because unless i'm reading it wrong, it was the tsunami which has hit some of the power areas around these plants which has caused most of the problem. >> that's right. they appear to have survived the earthquake but not the tsunami. the reason is, you need huge volumes of cooling water for a nuclear reactor. the nuclear reactor heats up water, turns it to steam. the steam turns the turbine, the turbine turns the generator, you get electricity. then you've got to take the steam and cool it back into water. the way do you that is having a large body of water.
here in the united states, we do that on big lakes. we do that on rivers. we put in a cooling tower so we need less water. but we, too, have a lot of reactors that are on the ocean, or on major bays. luckily, the east coast and gulf coast are not subject to tsunami. the west coast may be. but those are designed for tsunami. at least they're designed for the biggest tsunami we think they'd see. what happened in this case is this plant was hit by an earthquake and then a tsunami bigger than what it was designed for. >> matthew, thank you very much. i'm now going to go back to anderson cooper, who i think now can hear me. what is the latest? i heard your dramatic early report to me. but in terms of this latest explosion, the nuclear explosion, how worried are people where you are about the possible radiation fallout here? >> reporter: first of all, we're having a hard time hearing you.
anderson and i are together. we want to describe a couple things we've seen over the last few days. obviously the focus for me is how do you care for people who have been subjected to the tragedies, all the images that we've seen over the last several days. you know, i had a chance to visit some of the hospitals. we were trying to take care of people who are injured, severely, but survived. it's really hard to imagine that they can even survive some of the images that you've seen. but you know, unlike haiti or other natural disasters, you know, people in this particular disaster seem to either be injured, sort of walking wounded so to speak, or they didn't survive at all. there is a very small percentage of people that are critically injured and in need of care right away. japan, luckily, has one of the best hospital systems for this sort of thing. interestingly enough, you may know this as well, on friday a lot of the clinics were closed. they simply weren't open. they had to take people from the places to hospitals that are far away.
they don't use helicopters. so it was by ground. you've seen the images getting around is challenging. so that logistical challenge presented itself immediately. we got a chance to see how they were taking care of a lot of the patients in the hospitals. the big concern now, a lot of the evac centers, and you may have seen this, people were displaced as a result of the tsunami, and even from as far away from where you were, we started to see people evacuated to these evacuation centers because of concerns about radiation poisoning. they're hearing local radio reports, a lot of them, as you probably know, have been somewhat misinformed, somewhat panic driven. but as a result, we got two sort of streams of people now coming to the evacuation centers. >> in terms of radiation, do we know at this point where it is safe? how far away from these reactors? the government had put this 20 kilometer evacuation zone around the fukushima daiichi plant which had the biggest problems. but how arbitrary is that? >> it seems very arbitrary. i talked to lots of experts both back in the states and people
who focus on this sort of thing around the world. it is an arbitrary number. what they can say now, they're starting to get some data back. because they're testing people in the area. it's not the most sophisticated testing. they're using geiger counters around them, trying to get an idea of how much radiation exposure they've had. best way to know if someone is exposed is if they start to develop any symptoms. but these counters at least seem to indicate the maximum amount of radiation poisoning people are getting is what they may get from a chest x-ray or from simply getting, you know, the earth's natural radiation over a month's period. it doesn't seem that high right now. it seems to be very much reflected by dose and distance. so how much radiation is there and how far you are away from it, but i know you were however kilometers away, those numbers are somewhat arbitrary. >> it's obviously of concern to people. but i'm sure you've seen this. as i said before, you really don't see pandemonium. there is this sense of order here and calm that is really kind of remarkable.
i've never seen it before in a disaster like this. >> at the evacuation center we were at, supermarkets were essentially donating food. they said we're going to donate food to the evacuation centers. they have now run out. the evacuation center that we were at relying on the good will of volunteers to essentially donate supplies. you know, the question is, as we've seen so many times, how long is that going to last, how long is it going to be before other supplies get in here. >> a very fluid situation really changing by the hour, piers. >> anderson, sanjay, thank you very much. just to remind people, communication is very, very bad in north of japan at the moment. they couldn't actually hear me there. but they gave some really fascinating detail. i now want to go to cnn's kim la who is now in sendai, and can hear me. one of the fascinating things that i just heard there and is really remarkable to watch is the apparent calm of the people in japan given the scale of the disaster that's before them. >> reporter: it is.
but if you live here, as i do, and you talk to people and you see how this culture works, it's very apparent that that is what's going to happen. i would be extraordinarily surprised if there were any sort of pandemonium or looting. that's just not the way this culture runs. japanese people pride order and civility above all else. the idea of complaining is even something that is really not accepted here in japan. that's why when you heard anderson talking about when the water ran out, people were not upset. that is expected here. also the sense of community. that is something that we saw after the kobe earthquake. and what happens is the government can't necessarily be everywhere right away. so what we're seeing in these evacuation centers is a good will of people, community members pitching in. those limited supplies when they can't immediately arrive, supplies that are there in the evacuation centers, the people distribute it evenly amongst themselves.
i saw yesterday one man handing his bowl to another elderly person who had not eaten. that's just the way this culture works. and so the issues that we've seen in other countries after a crisis like this is not something that we're really expecting here. if you hear of any sort of issue like that, that will tell you that the culture is becoming basically spiraling out of control. and that is just something we haven't seen yet. >> kim, how worried are the people there about what they're hearing from the nuclear reactors? we now had a third explosion. in the last few hours. no one seems to be quite sure what is going on. but it clearly is extremely worrying and dangerous. is this commuting down to the people on the streets? >> reporter: i think it depends who you talk to and where you are. here in the city center of sendai, woo we're not in the immediate tsunami zone, people are paying attention. all the televisions are on.
people are watching the government briefings. i think because the government is out there talking to people and most japanese people do accept what they're told by the government, at this point we're not sensing people here in the city center all that concerned. they're paying attention to it, but there's no sense of panic here. now when you get to the tsunami zone where i spent the bulk of my time, i can tell you that they're simply not paying attention to the crisis right now. because for them, it's far more personal. it's about where am i going to sleep? where are my relatives? where is my house? and so because they can't wrap their mind around that problem, it's very difficult to look at the larger issue of this nuclear issue. so it really does depend on where you're standing here in northern japan. >> and when you look at the utter devastation that has been wrought on some of these towns, that have been just obliterated, clearly it's a desperate situation. have you any idea where this death toll is going to end up? is it still impossible to put
any real gauge on it? >> reporter: it's really impossible. we've spoken to a number of search and rescue people, and the military as well, and what they tell us is, until the water recedes, they're really not going to know. we heard anderson talking about how search and rescue crews are using sticks. that's what they're all using. their putting sticks into debris and dry land. they're wading in the water but it is extraordinarily difficult for them. in some cases the water does remain up to chest high. so what they're telling us is until the water recedes out of that area, they can't do an accurate death toll. they can tell us how many people are missing, they think. but they're still not even sure of an exact toll of the missing. communications remain extraordinarily difficult. and the evacuation centers near the tsunami zone here in sendai, the way people are getting messages to each other, is by going from evacuation center to evacuation center, and leaving
notes, whether they be pasted or written on the walls of these evacuation centers, looking for people, leaving mobile phone numbers that frankly don't work in this region. >> you've been doing some remarkable reporting. incredibly difficult circumstances. so thank you for that. please, stay safe and continue to bring us all the news as it happens. next, where does your money go when you give to disaster relief? my exclusive interview with the president of the american red cross. usa prime credit. you have question?. ok...peggy. yes, i have 100,000 reward points. what are my options? ooh, many options. ooh. one keychain. b, trucker cap. look good for ladies. uh ok, how 'bout cash? cash? he want cash! want better rewards? peggy? switch to discover. america's number 1 cash rewards program.
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about other medicines you are taking, or if you have muscle pain or weakness. that could be a sign of serious side effects. ask your doctor if crestor is right for you. i love it when we're here together. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. a little while ago there was another explosion at the damaged nuclear power plant in the northern part of japan. radiation levels are four times previous level. goldman sachs announced today they will match employees' personal donations to the tsunami relief effort. millions of dollars have been donated to help the people of japan. will it be enough? where does your money go? joining me is the president and ceo of the american red cross. where do you possibly start with a disaster on the scale of the
one that we are seeing in japan? >> first of all, piers, thank you for having me on. i do want to express my deepest condolences to the people of japan. the images that i've just been watching on your show are so devastating. i can't even imagine what they're going through. obviously the need is going to be quite great. fortunately the japanese red cross society in japan is very strong. they have 2 million volunteers. and they have told us that donations will be most welcomed. so we are beginning to accept donations. and as always, the american public is already showing their incredible generosity and we'll be working with the japanese red cross society to figure out where the need is greatest and how we can apply assistance. >> in terms of the sheer volume
of natural disasters that we've seen in the last decade, how bad is this one from your perspective in terms of the work the red cross is needing to do to get to people there? >> it's an absolutely amazing, the extent of the damage and the visuals that we see on our screen for the last 72 hours. but each disaster is different. and having seen the aftermath of earthquakes personally, i can tell you it's difficult to measure which is worse. when you're impacted by a natural disaster this size and scope, to you, it feels like the end of the world. and i've seen the look on people's faces right after an experience like this, and it's -- they're just in deep, deep shock. >> you've been running an excellent campaign since this happened. where people can text red cross to 90999, and they immediately
donate $10. i have, like many people, tweeted this, and retweeted it, to encourage people to donate. some of the reaction i get is a predictable one in situations like this. how much of the money that goes to the red cross can be guaranteed to go straight to japan and help there? >> well, we are very proud of the fact that 91 cents of every dollar that is donated to us goes to the relief efforts in the country that we're targeting. so 91 cents of every dollar went directly to haiti. and the same thing will happen with the japanese red cross. >> what is the immediate priority when this kind of thing happens? clearly japan's been hit by three different attacks here. one was the earthquake, then you've had the tsunami, and now we have the ongoing nuclear threat. this is pretty unprecedented stuff, isn't it? what is the priority for the red cross right now?
>> well, right now, food, shelter, medical supplies. those are the top priorities. and the japanese red cross has deployed almost 100 medical units with about 700 medical personnel out to as many communities as they can reach to help provide assistance. in addition, people are suffering from hypothermia, particularly the elderly. so the sheltering is extremely important to get people out of the cold. and as the operations start evolving into recovery, i'm sure that the building damage getting people back into permanent homes is going to be the next big priority. >> it's clearly an enormous task. the red cross does an incredible job in situations like this. just to remind people, if you want to help, the best and quickest way is to text red cross to 90999. you will automatically donate
$10. thank you very much indeed, gale, for an update. i hope we can talk to you later in the week. >> i hope so, too. thank you. >> thank you. coming up after the break, an exclusive interview with yoko ono. she experienced an earthquake years ago in tokyo and here live tonight to talk about this latest disaster. [ female announcer ] it's lobsterfest. the one time of year red lobster creates so many irresistible ways to treat yourself to lobster. like our new lobster-and-shrimp trio with a parmesan lobster bake, our decadent lobster lover's dream with both sweet maine and buttery rock lobster tails and eleven more choices, each served with a salad and unlimited cheddar bay biscuits. come celebrate lobsterfest right now at red lobster. each served with a salad and unlimited cheddar bay biscuits. but you can still refinance to a fixed rate as low as 4.75% at lendingtree.com. plus, get the best deal or we'll pay you $1,000.
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>> translator: i thought i was dying when i was pushed in the water. for my folks, for my family, i decided to make every effort to survive. >> repeating our breaking news tonight. another explosion at a damaged nuclear power plant in the northern part of japan. radiation levels have soared to four times the previous level. i'm joined by our special guest yoko ono. many years ago she was in a tokyo hotel room with john lennon and their son sean when an earthquake struck. an erie coincidence. and now joining me is yoko. obviously, an utterly desperate time for your home country of japan. >> so terrible. i feel terrible. >> when did you hear what happened? where were you?
>> well, i was in new york, of course. >> and how did you hear the news? >> well, like you heard it too, i suppose, through the tv news. >> can you believe what you're seeing? >> i just can't believe it. i mean, we were in an earthquake, which was not very bad. and usually there is some kind of earthquake that people are saying, did you feel that last night? no, we didn't or something. and very sort of light things. >> when you went through that earthquake with john and sean -- >> that was not that light. >> what did it feel like? >> i was so scared. so i immediately went into a closet which is an open closet. and i just held sean like this. and i was closing my eyes and saying a prayer. it was a natural thing to do. and afterwards, john was saying why did you go in the closet?
well, he was there, too. but i think he was very surprised that we had to go in the closet. >> was it a very powerful explosion? for those that have never been in an earthquake, i was in a very minor one in california. somewhere like los angeles. and they're scary. it may last ten seconds, but you feel like the world is ending when these things happen. what was it look for you? >> that one was very -- pretty bad. and so my body, because it remembers it, so each time i remember it, my body goes a little stiff, you know. and -- >> obviously the earthquake that you went through pales into insignificance into what we're seeing. this is one of the worst in history. >> i think so. >> and the devastation to your country. do you have family, friends there? are they all okay? >> because most of them are in tokyo, tokyo was all right. but i think that they did experience the big shake and
that was -- that will stay with them for a long time, i'm sure. but i like to see it as, you know, something that would become all right. right now everybody is so upset about it, of course. and it's a very sad thing to happen. but i think that one day it will be like an architect's heaven. all over the world, all the architects will probably get some kind of points or something and try to go to japan and see if they can -- if they're allowed to make their own building or something. because in the usual cities, the usual countries, you can't do that now. but others were saying, you know, the future cities are like this or something. and we still don't have that kind of country. >> tell me this. you know the japanese people a lot better than most people because you're from that country.
everyone's been struck by how calm they have been in the face of such a calamity. is that very much the japanese culture to react that way? >> they're not violent people. they're innately calm, kind people. and also, they're very resilient. and i think that i've experienced the second world war. and after the war, i went back to tokyo from where i was evacuating. and tokyo was like flat, totally flat from being bombed. but, well, somehow -- >> they rebuilt. >> somehow they have the energy and the courage and the wisdom to rebuild it. and i think that's going to happen now again. >> what is your message to the people of japan? you're obviously one of the most famous japanese people in the world. they would want to hear from you now as some form of comfort. what would you say to them? >> we're all together in spirit. and we have to start bringing
out our super power, which is the energy, resilience and wisdom that we have. and i think that it's going to be quite something. i think this country is going to be, for the first time, become the kind of country that the whole world will envy. >> you've been very active in the last few days in encouraging people to donate to the red cross. >> yes. >> are there other ways you think people should be helping? what is the best way for americans in particular to help here? >> well, as of now, i found that there's no definite funds -- a foundation in japan that we can send money to. so red cross is it. i sent mine to red cross. i believe in red cross. they're very good. so i think red cross i think. >> when you watch these scenes, yoko, finally, i've never seen anything quite like this in my
life. people are going to struggle to stay hopeful and positive, aren't they? >> yes. >> what's interesting of what you said after the second world war. the prime minister said this is the worst attack on the country really since the second world war in terms of the devastation. >> it's very similar. and we did recover. and in an incredible way. i'm sure that we will, too. this time. and i think that it's a kind of challenge that we're given now, a very big challenge. nobody wants this kind of big challenge. but with a big challenge, i'm sure that some big, big beautiful results will happen. >> yoko ono, thank you very much for coming in. >> thank you. coming up, disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. is this country prepared? while some fiber ads use super models, metamucil uses super hard working psyllium fiber,
>> translator: i'm alive. i don't know if it's good or bad. i don't know if it's good or bad. that i survived. once again, our breaking news tonight. another explosion at a damaged nuclear power plant in northern japan. radiation levels have soared to four times their previous level. what would happen if a disaster like the one that just hit japan struck this country. is the united states fully prepared? would you be safe. here now is craig fugate. craig, how prepared is the united states? we hear lots of speculation about it being ready for this
kind of thing. can any country be ready for an attack of a natural disaster like this? >> i think it's two parts. are we better prepared than we were for katrina? yes. but does that mean in future disasters we won't see the tragedy, damages and loss of life? the answer is, yes, that's going to happen. it's really going to come back to the type of disaster where it happens to the initial impacts. so the second part of the question, are we better able to respond to the survivors and their needs and can we mitigate against these hazards for future threat? so we've got a lot of work to do in this country, but we've made a lot of improvements since katrina to do better at responding to this level of an event. >> clearly, the ongoing, very serious situation is the one at the nuclear plants in japan. what is the situation with the american nuclear plants? how vulnerable are they to a similar perfect storm of earthquake and tsunami causing the kind of partial meltdowns that we're seeing? >> one thing we do, and this was after the three mile island
incident, is the nuclear regulatory commission and the federal emergency management agency required that each licensed operator conduct annual exercises as well as drills. part of this is both from the design of the plants against the threats they face but also how do we practice and exercise what could happen if we do have an event? and, again, as we saw in japan, you're going to evacuate people. there is a potential for that risk and everything. i want to come back to, there is a lot of focus on the nuclear power plant and what is happening there, you have to remember the enormity of the response to the tsunami, and earthquake, but particularly the tsunami and how that is playing out and how we have to respond to that as a nation. >> what are the key lessons that you are learning watching what is happening in japan for a similar situation potentially one happening in america? >> probably the one thing that you heard time and time again from your guests is how resilient the japanese population is.
part of which is they have annual drills, particularly for earthquakes. there's high level of citizen participation. we have an opportunity here in the united states particularly in the central u.s. to practice the 100-year anniversary of the earthquake on april 28th, a central u.s. earthquake exercise that focuses on personal preparedness. and i think this goes back to what they know in japan as with all of these types of hazards with earthquakes being a high hazard there, is citizen participation and preparedness adds to the ability of government to focus their response on the greatest needs while many people are able to take care of themselves that are not in this area of greatest devastation. >> i want to bring in now dr. erwin redmidler from colombia university. you heard what we just heard there from craig fugate. do you agree with him that we are in a relatively strong position in america? >> i agree with him that things
have been definitely improved since 9/11, and certainly since katrina. i should note that he added a tremendous amount of professional to fema. it's been absolutely tremendous. my view of the world in terms of the u.s. response with disaster of this nature is that we are very, very far from being prepared. we are riddled with problems and challenges that we're going to have to get ahold of, if we're actually going to get ourselves in position that's even as well prepared as the japanese were. japanese citizens and government were far more prepared to deal with events of this nature and this magnitude than we would be in the u.s. i would dread this event happening here and i think we would see far different outcomes for a variety of different reasons that would really plague our preparedness efforts. >> craig fugate, let me bring you back in there. where would you say america is most vulnerable to something like this happening? where are the weaker areas in terms of fault lines, the people
tell me about the san andreas fault line being a potential next target for this kind of earthquake. do you know? do you have any way of predicting where the most likely places are that would suffer this kind of thing? >> sure. we do great mapping of where the seismic risk is. i think in california they've done a lot since their past earthquakes to improve their building codes. we know in a lot of places in this country, particularly the central u.s. and other areas, we have a lot of older construction that does not meet or is mitigated against the seismic risk. so we would expect to see a greater percentage of structural failures outside of areas that have taken the steps to mitigate against the seismic risk. >> what are we talking about? >> well, places like the central u.s. and places you may not think about such as fault lines that occur in other parts of the country that don't have a lot of activity, but have had significant historical events such as in charleston, south carolina.
and other places. so you tend to always think the earthquake risk is in california. maybe alaska. but we have seismic risks throughout the country, various parts. and that's why when it's important about being prepared, it's not just the areas that, you know, we know about hurricanes. we know about earthquakes. but what about in your community? and i think the other point that was made about our level of preparedness is, we just looked at government alone, i would agree. but we're doing a better job, i think, of bringing the private sector in as part of the team, really working with retailers and others to get supplies in the areas and focusing on the greatest need. it comes back to this one point and that is personal preparedness. and so we encourage people that some disasters give us warning. but earthquakes very little notice. that's why it is important to have a family preparedness plan. if you don't have one, go to readi.gov. we made improvements. we still have a lot of work to get ready. but this is what we have planned for this type of event as much as people say it will never
happen in my community, low probability, high consequence events is why we have to build the depth and the capability to respond as a nation. >> and i agree with mr. fugate very much. but the problem we're facing now is that we've grossly under underinvested in some of the structures and systems that we have in place if we have a major disaster. for example, our health and hospital systems are really unprepared to deal with any kind of major disaster. and it has to do with our unwillingness to really invest and make sure the systems can surge up when they need to. the citizen preparedness issue is just as mr. fugate is saying, we have a lot of work to do there. but the bigger problem may be something that's very structural here in the u.s., piers, and that is the fact that the federal government develops, and does develop, very excellent guidelines. but the states are actually not obligated nor the cities to follow those guidelines. we have a federalist system. we don't have really national direction of disaster preparedness planning as they do in japan, as they do in great britain and israel and so forth.
so we have more than 100 committees and subcommittees in congress that are appropriating money in these various silos, and doing this and that. we don't have a central focus and a central plan. we're really quite worried about that. the main problem is lack of investment and things that we'll need to protect us in this kind of event. >> well, thank you both very much. the key point really is that after japan, we have to think the unthinkable and be prepared for that because nobody, i think, could have possibly predicted what we are seeing going on there now and quite the scale that has happened. but thank you very much. coming up, the nuclear emergency in japan. will it affect energy policy in this country? a company-wide memo about the meeting? uh-huh. this is the meeting. we are the company. don't sweat it. i just switched us to sprint, so e-mail, web...on 4g... it's all unlimited. [ cellphone buzzes ] you just texted me to read the memo? unlimited text too.
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in the wake of a new nuclear explosion the damaged power plant in japan, we're learning tonight that the nikkei has fallen below the 9,000 level. joining me now is bill richardson, the former secretary of the department of energy. and james woolsey formerly of the cia. let me start with you, governor richardson. what does this mean for the american nuclear energy project? >> it's going to be tough days ahead for the nuclear power industry. we have 104 reactors in 31 states. 20% of our energy is nuclear. the administration wants to build 20 new power plants, nuclear power plants in the next 20 years or so. they're going to have some tough times. i do think that nuclear power is important.
it emits no greenhouse gas emissions, so it's not a pollutant. but there's some safety issues, that because of this accident, are going to have to be addressed. i think in any future plants we've got to be careful about building any new facilities in seismically active areas. we've got to be sure that containment vessels are built very strongly in earthquake-prone areas. and we have to look at the 31 plants that use similar technology to those in japan. i think the main message in our nuclear energy policy is, we have to continue it, but it has to be done carefully. we should use this time for a pause, a time-out, not a moratorium, but to make sure that we learn some lessons from what's happened here in japan. >> jim, if you were still running the cia, would you believe everything we're hearing coming out of the japanese adds
madison square garden coming out of the nuclear plants? or would you be suspicious the situation may be worse than we're told? >> you never believe anything you're hearing, we don't spy on the japanese. most of our information is going to come from them. i think the security aspects of this that are the most interesting is that this may begin to move the world somewhat away from nuclear power. i don't think that's a bad thing, because i think natural gas can to a great extent take its place with a new gas shale extraction. assuming we can do it in an environmentally sound way. but nuclear power has been a pathway for several countries to develop nuclear wems. under the nonproliferation treaty, once you have a nuclear power plant, you can get into what other countries have done.
nuclear power plants are a somewhat of a proliferation machine. and that's a very serious problem. i think that demand for nuclear power in places like egypt and saudi arabia is going to continue. the reason they would get into nuclear power is not really because they want it for electricity, but because they want an excuse to match iran's nuclear program. so i see this as a slowdown for nuclear power, and i don't think that that is a bad thing. we ought to be very careful how and where we build nuclear power plants in the future. >> one of the issues here is that there will be terrorist organizations around the world looking at the vulnerability of these nuclear plants and looking at them as potential ultimate dirty bombs, won't they? >> well, if they can get hold of some of the material for dirty bombs, yes, you can get some of that in hospitals and the like. i think the security problem is the electric grid.
it's not so much the individual power plants. many countries are really quite well protected. they may not be well protected against earthquakes and tsunamis of this size. but pretty well protected. the problem is that the grid itself is vulnerable, because a lot of its control systems operate across the internet, the so-called-state systems. one can hack into them, one can otherwise disrupt them increasingly. that's the problem. >> governor richardson, very quickly here, what would you say are the key lessons that america needs to learn in terms of its energy program from what we've seen in japan in the last few days? >> number one, we have to recognize that we need to move toward more diverse sources of energy. we can't just do fossil fuels, coal, oil, nuclear, those industries are important. but we have to shift more toward renewable, toward natural gas. we need to find ways to
diversify. and that's the main lesson. >> thank you both very much indeed for your time. here's my colleague anderson cooper who has a remarkable story coming up on his show tonight, don't you, anderson? >> yeah, we do. we're not only going to have the latest on the nuclear emergency which is fast developing. and the search and rescue efforts under way. we've actually been able to locate a young american teacher, his parents have been frantically trying to find out word about him. didn't know what had happened to him. it's in a town that's just been decimated. soledad o'brien has just reached that town. we have been in contact with the family of this young teacher. his name is paul fails, peter and mary, his parents were desperately worried, they had seen pictures of the decimation in this town. obviously were very concerned about his well-being. we've actually just located this
young man. we'll have that reunion tonight, piers, on "360," a special two-hour edition. >> wonderfully uplifting story. amid all this terrible despair, anderson. thank you. we'll have more on the japan disaster and breaking news when we come back. homeowners -- rates have been going up, but you can still refinance to a fixed rate as low as 4.75% at lendingtree.com. plus, get the best deal or we'll pay you $1,000. call lending tree at... today.
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now i'm joined by cnn's anna koran who's in sendai. what is the latest in terms of the third nuclear explosion? how worried are people on the ground there? >> piers, i've got to say that people are starting to get worried. i think up until today, people thought that, you know, authorities sort of had it reasonably under control. that they would contain the situation. but with the new explosions, people are starting to get a little bit edgy. we are only 60 kilometers north of that power plant. so people are really starting to ask questions and demand the answers from the government. now, we've been spending a lot of time further north in those